To thank you for being in my life.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve come this far. I swear it was just yesterday when were living in the city, I was pregnant with you and walking my neighborhood with you visibly inside me alongside of Diamond, our very grown up, very large and imposing Great Dane.
The thing about pregnant women is that the farther along their pregnancy, the s-l-o-w-e-r they/ we walk. Which we don’t realize until about three months after our babies are born and our bodies weigh less.
During the last three months of my pregnancy, it took me 45 minutes to an hour to walk a distance that before being pregnant I could walk in about 20 minutes. With Diamond.
Walking that same distance after you were born, with you in a baby stroller, my neighbors would stop me, admire you, and then, looking a bit puzzled, they’d ask, “Where’s Diamond?”
Which is when it dawned on me what I must have looked like in my 8th and 9th months of pregnancy walking that dog.
We moved out to the suburbs – into what was your great grandparents house – when you were three years old. And we have lived in their/our house ever since. This house, this neighborhood, the families whose kids you have grown up with, this village, is what you know.
You don’t remember her, but you got to meet your great grandmother, Angeline Hensel, before she moved down to Atlanta, GA to live with her son and his family.
Archie and Alice Porter, your grandparents, loved you fiercely and practically. Fiercely because you were their very first (and as it turned out their only) grand child. They came to visit you during that first month after you were born and for the rest of their lives, you were quietly and sweetly loved.
When public school became so hard for you, and we found a private school that was perfect for you, they made it possible, financially, for you to go there.
They gave you summers and at least one winter’s visit in Maine from the time you were born until you turned eight years old. You loved their house that was tucked into the trees along the banks of the Kennebac River, just outside of Bath.
I still have one of your very first art pieces – that crayon drawing you did when you were in third grade of their house, up on the hill sloping down to the river.
Three months after you were born, your great grandfather and your grandfather died within a week of each other. You never got to meet them, but, take it from me, they would have loved you.
When we buried your grandfather at Arlington National Cemetery, you were a trooper, flying down for the funeral with me, all of your tiny, three month self.
And, years later, when we buried your grandmother at Arlington, you were old enough to understand and to remember all of it, especially the time that you got to spend with your cousins: Kate, Jason, Rachel and David, Mike and Matt.
Remember that limo ride on your 16th birthday? Not too many kids get picked up for school in a limousine early on a weekday morning.
I dragged you off to dog obedience classes with me so many times that you became well versed in dog behavior. You got so you could walk into a room filled with dogs and their owners and pick out the dogs that were scared or nervous or really happy.
And, because you grew up with a Great Dane, you’ve always been comfortable around large dogs.
When we started spending a week out of every August up in the Adirondacks, I know that a part of you gave a quiet sigh of relief. Because your dad and I did. I think that the three of us felt like we’d found a piece of Maine for ourselves just inside of the Adirondack Park after years of missing Maine.
You’ve been out of school for a while and you’ve worked pretty steadily since you graduated from high school. You bought a car and you paid it off. You started volunteering at a local animal shelter and you come home with stories about the dogs that you walk.
Here’s something I don’t think I ever told you. I was still teaching high school English when I was pregnant with you. The kids in my classes were fascinated by that, especially the 11th graders. They asked all kinds of questions when we were supposed to be talking about Mark Twain.
Like what did it feel like when you moved inside me.
When I wanted to get them to stop talking, I’d walk up and down the aisles and say, “Shh! You’ll wake the baby.”
After you were born, I wrapped you up in your baby carrier and waltzed you into that very same classroom. You got picked up and passed around by the kids in that class who felt, and rightly so, that they had had some part of my pregnancy.
So, here we are. It’s April 24th and you are 26 years old. I kind of have a feeling that part of you is a little bit scared because you’re not sure what’s going to happen next.
That’s okay. You’re not the only one who feels scared. We all take turns feeling scared. Me. Your dad. Your cousins. Except for Kate. She’s a lioness!
I’ll bet that if you asked him, your Uncle Ed would tell you that he’s been scared. Sometimes. But, the other thing he might tell you is that being scared can be a good thing because it keeps you from becoming complacent.
People who are a little bit scared some of the time never settle for less. They dream bigger and want more. They take bigger risks. They love more and keep looking for their heart’s desire.
There is so much of your heart’s desire ahead of you. And I am so blessed to be able to walk part of that journey with you.
Welcome to your 26th year, my darling son. It’s going to rock your world with greatness!